Starry skies, lava flow, & solitude: the big island of Hawaii

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The big island of Hawaii is the state’s youngest island, and also its largest (duh). And like any (very) young thing, it continues to grow, edges creeping out in a live, molten lava flow that causes the island to gain ground a little bit each year. It is certainly not the state’s most well-known island- not like Maui, Oahu, or Kaui- and it does not conjure up the images we know from vintage film posters, postcards, and pop culture. The big island is vast, mountainous, and authentic, and it’s worth visiting for anyone who likes to explore. Continue reading “Starry skies, lava flow, & solitude: the big island of Hawaii”

Resolutions for 2017

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1. Dream More.

In 2017, I want to dwell in all the possibilities of what could be. Backpacking around New Zealand, micro-financing small businesses for women in third-world countries, learning to surf, heck, buying a really nice car. My dreams may go poof and disappear, or they may materialize in front of me. Regardless, I’m going there—and I’m not allowing “what if’s” or “but’s” to stand in my way. Continue reading “Resolutions for 2017”

Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats

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‘Tis the season to feed and to be fed. Christmas and the surrounding holidays have got me thinking a lot about why we celebrate special occasions by feeding each other- our family, our friends, those we love, and maybe even those we don’t know particularly well. In the U.S. we don’t normally spend too much time in the kitchen, preparing, cooking, and plating labor-intensive dishes- but come November and December, we’re roasting 20 lb. turkeys, sugaring hundreds of tiny cookies, melting chocolate for ganache truffles, peeling apples for pie, and kneading all sorts of crusts and breads—all for the sake of others (okay, maybe we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor a little).

It’s an exceptional time of the year to be hospitable. But in other parts of the world, and in other cultures, hospitality is a year-round tradition, expectation, and joy. Since I’ve had the awesome opportunity to do a good bit of traveling to different countries, I’ve had the equally awesome opportunity to eat my way around the world, in the kitchens (and living room floors, and straw huts) of some of the most talented and generous cooks I’ve ever known. They’re not professionals, but their capacity to wow on an often limited budget is just as impressive as any restaurant chef—if not more. Here, a few of my favorite experiences… Continue reading “Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats”

Learn to dream again

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If you were a healthy, fairly well-adjusted child, you probably had lots of dreams for the future. You might have dreamed of being a professional athlete, or an actress, or a movie producer. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a mansion, an indoor swimming pool and a crew of servants (scary, I know). As you got a little older, your dreams may have evolved, and you may have had callings or goals more sophisticated or specific; maybe you wanted to be an entrepreneur, or a photojournalist, or move to a foreign country. By the time I was 12 or 13, I dreamed of being a writer.

But somewhere along the way, for many of us, disappointment, discouragement and distraction happen (by the way,”dis-” means “reversing force”). We lose sight of our dreams, and maybe we even lose the ability to dream. By the time I was 18 or 19, I decided writing was unrealistic and impractical, and I had college, boys and a number of other things on my mind. I didn’t have time to dream. Continue reading “Learn to dream again”

A perfect 24 hours on Catalina Island

You may have never heard of Catalina Island before, but at one time this 22-mile long island off the coast of LA was a major destination for celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and later on, Marilyn Monroe (think the Great Gatsby, West Coast style). The first and only time I’ve seen any national recognition of this Southern California getaway was on a Growing Pains episode in the 90’s, that was supposed to take place in Southern Europe. There it was- right behind Kirk Cameron, the ubiquitous sea foam- green railing of the waterside walkway and the arched facade of the famous Casino built in the 20’s- it wasn’t Malaga or Nice I was seeing, it was Southern California. And that’s when I realized I had always taken for granted this coastal gem, only a (sometimes rocky) forty-five minute boat ride from Long Beach.

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What I learned about staying healthy while living overseas (it’s surprising)

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Before moving to Morocco in 2012, I had one major fear. I didn’t fear loneliness, or being far from my home country, or not being able to communicate with those outside of my culture and native language. I wasn’t afraid of not finding a job, or even of the possibility of terrorist attacks (although there had been a major attack in Marrakesh in 2011). This one thing crossed my mind again and again while packing and preparing: the fear of gaining weight. Continue reading “What I learned about staying healthy while living overseas (it’s surprising)”

Step out of your comfort zone

A couple weeks go, I felt myself go into a funk. After a long and crazy summer of international travel and reconnecting with old friends, I began settling into a routine with new job responsibilities in a new location. And with that came a certain amount of uncertainty about myself and about my future.

Life shifts are exciting, but they carry with them the pressure to re-establish ourselves. You may be coming from a place where you are known to a place where you are newIn the midst of insecurity, two things can happen: a) your confidence can droop as you struggle to prove your identity, or b) you can take the opportunity to remake yourself: not to lose your identity but to reconsider parts of yourself you thought were immovable.

Continue reading “Step out of your comfort zone”

5 secret spots in Tangier, Morocco

Tangier, Morocco is a city that can be a bit overwhelming to the average tourist. Built on the tip of North Africa closest to Spain- and as a result, ideal for shipping, tourism and shady transactions- it has a rich history of a swirl of people and goods. Once you’ve made the steep climb into the walled medina (old city) from the port, you’ll find yourself in a chaos of commerce: shop owners trying their best to sell you rugs, leather slippers and touristy knick knacks; candy vendors with glass cases of sticky almond nougat; Moroccan housemoms weighed down with plastic bags of tomatoes and cucumber; and of course, the lone entrepreneur offering you a cell phone at a discount price (read: it’s stolen).

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Why you should (or shouldn’t) travel solo

I first got my feet wet traveling solo during my semester abroad in Strasbourg, France. The third day after arriving, I got lost in a snowstorm alone, breaking me in for the next few years of my life, which would involve a) getting lost more than I want to admit and b) finding my way back every time, thank you Jesus. By now, I’ve traveled through Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium on my own, mastered the art of bus, train and airplane schedules and learned to navigate my way through any city (visual cues are the key).

 

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